Conceived in Springtime, born in September, She took her first step on All Saints' Day. Three men took a walk in the Spring of 1885 through a section that was part town and part country. The geese and the goats roamed the cobblestone streets. While strolling through the "Wide open spaces", consisting of clay hills, brickyards, and cow pastures, which is now the vicinity of Salem, The Reverend Christian Kirshmann said to the Reverend Burkhart and the Reverend E. Huber, the President of the Atlantic District of the Synod of North America, -- "HERE IS A GOOD SITE FOR A CHURCH." It was this site that soon became the sacred soil upon which Salem was built.-- From This Is Life In Salem (1960)
Much has changed in South Baltimore since 1885. So, too has Salem throughout its history......responding to the needs of its flock and the community as it spreads the Good News. "Change" has meant many different things over the years at Salem......
Organized September 13, 1885 in the home of Mr. Frank Ellermann. Constitution signed by Gottlieb Weber, August Bendt, Henry Brodt, John Mayer, Frank Ellermann, Gottlieb Moenke, John Mattheiss, Henry Meikel, Charles Heck, George Spiekermann, Julis Gohlke and Philip Hedwig. Officers were elected (Gottlieb Weber, President; August Bendt, Secretary; Henry Brodt, Treasuer), a building committee chosen (Frank Ellermann, John Mattheisz, Gottlieb Moenke, Gottlieb Weber, August Bendt and henry Brodt), a Finance committee (Charles Hoppe, Julius Gohlke and Philip Hedwig) and the church affiliated with the Evangelical Synod of North America and was incorporated as 'the Deutsche Evangelische Salems Gemeinde (Salem German Evangelical Church). Ground was purchased for $2500 and the cornerstone laid on November 1, 1885 (see photo-cornerstone now lies beneath the chancel inside). This building served the congregation for fifty years. A Frauenverein (Ladies Aid Society) was founded in 1885 and merged with the Salem Guild to form the Ladies of Salem Auxiliary in 1945.
The first church picnic was held in Western Schuetzen Park (Carroll Park). It was customary in those days that the congregation would march to the picnic grounds as a group, which is what was done here. A Young Peoples Society was formed in 1897. In 1901 , the church school more than doubled their enrollment, increasing from 207 in July to 488 by the end of the year. Also, in that year, the Ladies Aid Society was reorganized and they numbered over 100.
In 1905, the congregation voted to sever its ties with the Evangelical Synod of North America and to change its name to Salen Evangelical Lutheran Church. In 1910, the pipe organ was dedicated. It was destroyed by fire in 1936. It was also in 1906 that the Pastor (Hahmann) suggested the introduction of English services. The motions carried and this was a big historical move for Salem. Pastor Hahmann also established a mission in Brooklyn. Out of this mission grew the St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brooklyn. During this time, Salem was not associated with any synod. The older members felt that they should return to the Evangelical Synod, but the younger felt they should affiliate with the Maryalnd Synol of the United Lutherans Church in America, which they did in 1916. A Brotherhood was formed in 1925 and a ladies' organization known as Salem's Guild was founded. There was also a 'Mother's Club' formed around 1931 to help with the problems of the unemployed during the depression.
After the resignation of Pastor Ziegelbrier, services were handled by Rev. Lauritz Ries of Trinity...he provided the German services. Rev. H. V. Krug provided the English services. Rev. Krug was elected new Pastor on April 1 1935. This was 'out of the ordinary' for Salem, which had always called for a candidate that was capable of speaking in both German and English.
In 1936, Salem voted unanimously to rebuild after an Easter Monday fire destroyed the church organ and severely damaged the original church building. It was during this time that the German services were discontinued, primarily because the hall was being used for Sunday School purposes at the accustomed hour of the German Service. The fire on Easter Monday of 1936, extinquished the German services in Salem.
After many efforts to raise funds for a new church, it was announced that $33,468.00 had been raised. This was on October 4, 1936 and the following Monday, the demolition of the old building was started. On Monday, November 23, 1936, Pastor Krug laid the first brick on the concrete foundation for the new church and on November 29, 1936, the new cornerstone was laid. Pastor Krug placed in the cornerstone: a Bible, a Common Service Book, a copy of Luther's Small Catechism, three historical sketches or booklets published by Salem at the 25th, 40th and 50th anniversaries, redeemed pledges of members, newspapers and magazines with accounts of the event, a copy of Salem's Friendly Visitor', two invitations to the cornerstone laying, greetings from various ministers and signature cards of members and friends.
In January 1937, a new constitution, patterned after the model form of the United Lutheran Church, was adopted. The charter was amended making their new name legal, after finding it wasn't quite done right the first time. The church was dedicated the week of October 10, 1937.
In the mid 50's, they constructed a Christian Education building in response to the post-war population boom and a Sunday School that was "bursting at the seams"
Today, Salem responds by offering traditional worship enlivened with contemporary accents....by reaching out to the community via neighborhood events as well as addressing the needs of its less fortunate....and by using the time and talents of its members to proclaim God's Word.
We visited Salem Lutheran on November 5, 2011. It was a beautiful day and quite a beautiful little church. Our Photo album.
- Rev. W. Kirschmann, 1885 to March, 1897
- Rev. John Rudolph, 1897 to June, 1900
- Rev. W. Rooper, 1900 to June, 1905
- Rev. Ernest Von Hahmann, Ph.D. 1905 to August, 1915
- Rev. K. Walter Schmidt, 1915 to 1931 [Some references spell his name Schmitt]
- Rev. Carl J. Ziegelbrier, 1931 to 1935
- Harry Victor Krug S.T.M. 1935 Retired 1973
- Rev. Barbara Melosh-Present
Church records are available on microfilm at the Maryland Archives in Annapolis:
MSA SC 5641 Film M13062
1530 Battery Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21230-4615
Church Website: http://www.salemsouthbaltimore.org/